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Meet BuzzBot

BuzzFeed built a news-gathering bot for the convention. If you're in Cleveland — or watching at home — try it out! Here's how to get it. Bleep, bloop.

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We’re sending a robot to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland to get information out of you.

No, no, no. I mean, like, a Facebook Messenger bot. We have this really cool little news bot. It’s called BuzzBot and it’s going to work differently than most of the other news bots out there. Instead of pushing news, it’s going to gather news. (Well, it will do both, actually.) Here’s the deal.

When we announced the BuzzFeed Open Lab a year ago, we talked about making laser-drones and creating crazy new tools. But maybe the most revolutionary new thing you can create is something that leverages existing, massively popular platforms. Something that just appears in the things that you've already got in your pocket.

We’re trying to saturate the convention with a team of 22 reporters. But we’re also deploying a news-gathering bot to tag along with everyone, all the time, everywhere they go. It will be in Cleveland in the pockets of the conventiongoers and protesters and reporters (and Uber drivers, and bellhops, and T-shirt vendors). We’re going to send interesting things to people in Cleveland and keep them up to date on the news. But we’re also going to receive new information from people in Cleveland. It's a ~virtuous~ circle, you see?

It’s not only going to tell you funny, interesting, and insightful stuff. (Although it will.) It’s also going to ask questions. Those queries may be different, depending on whether you’re a conventiongoer, a protester, or watching along at home. And it will use those reactions and inbound information to inform BuzzFeed News' reporting.

Finally, one of the things that we're most excited about with BuzzBot is that it's open-source, so stay tuned and we'll post the code online for others to use and modify in other venues, and for other events. (I'm going to send it to CES in January, because that's a place no human should ever have to go.)

The conventions have always been proving grounds for media technology. This year you can bet Cleveland will be totally windowed with live streams and 360 video (here’s the Open Lab-designed portable 360 field kit, if you want to take one to Cleveland). And so it seems like the perfect place to deploy a new kind of bot.

Want to try BuzzBot?

Sure you do. Here's how you can get and use it. Have fun!


Mat Honan is the San Francisco bureau chief for BuzzFeed News. Formerly a senior staff writer at Wired, he has been writing about the technology industry and its impact on society for nearly 20 years.

Contact Mat Honan at mat.honan@buzzfeed.com.

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